Acting New Jersey Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan upheld a reprimand issued by the state School Ethics Commission against former Jersey City Board of Education Trustees Sudhan Thomas and Marilyn Roman.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Upon a comprehensive review of the record, the Commissioner finds that the decision of
the Commission that appellants violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24(c) is supported by sufficient credible evidence, and appellants have not established that the Commission’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law,” she wrote in a May 19th decision.
“A review of the complaint and petition demonstrates that the former superintendent alleged that appellants – personally, and separately from their actions as Board members – acted improperly, including by engaging in a pattern of misconduct and harassment. Therefore, appellants’ interest in resolving the claims is not one fully shared with the public.”
Matt Schapiro, another former Jersey City BOE trustee, filed a complaint with the state on June 15th, 2020 alleging that Thomas and Roman violated the school ethics act, specifically the code of ethics for school board members.
He alleged that this occurred when Thomas and Roman voted in favor of settling ex-Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles’ federal lawsuit, which alleged the board created a hostile work environment and prevented her from doing her job, for $398,225 in late 2019, as HCV first reported.
The NJ SEC ruled in Schapiro’s favor in March, with Jersey City BOE Counsel Michael Gross noting that the decision would be appealed.
“This determination has been appealed to the Commissioner of Education as to both the finding of any violation and the recommended penalty. Pending the outcome of the appeal there will be no further comment from our office,” he said in an email at the time.
Given that Thomas lost re-election in 2019 and Roman, a former acting mayor, decided to retire last year after many decades of public service, the reprimand has little value outside of record keeping purposes.
Thomas currently has bigger problems: accused by federal prosecutors of embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud for his time as the acting executive director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program.
In a separate case, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office alleges that he took a $35,000 in cash bribes for a potential city council run from a cooperating witness in exchange for offering him a contract with the BOE.
In both instances, he has pleaded not guilty and the cases are ongoing.